The theme for  SIDE (South Island Dairy Event) 2012 ,which is being held in Dunedin next month, is people-perception-pride.

Organising committee chair Brangka Munan asks: are we making the most of the people in dairying?

 Workshops will cover topics like Farmer Fatigue & Managing People Effectively. Invercargill lawyer, Mary-Jane Thomas will present a workshop on Employment Law. Lynaire Ryan will take two workshops on career progression and getting the best out of a dairying career.

Other speakers include Dr John Penno who will speak about China, trans-Atlantic rower Rob Hamil and Davey Hughes of Swazi.

“Perception is Your Reality” is the title of our Panel Discussion where four panellists will try to help us better understand this very important, yet often tricky concept, Perception. The panellists this year include Dr Tim Mackle, CEO of DairyNZ, Nicola Toki from Forest and Bird, Dan Steele a
farmer, tourism operator and conservationist, and South Otago dairy farmer Steven Korteweg. BusinessSIDE this year will feature well-known TV presenter Genevieve Westcott, who will be running a session on media. This session will have an interactive component designed to give farmers a better understanding of the media. Organic farmer and innovator Robin Greer returns to SIDE this year as part of the BusinessSIDE programme to talk about the world of manufacturing and the marketing of niche products in New Zealand.
Also returning to SIDE is the legendary Dr Bas Schouten who will present a workshop on calf rearing.
Linked to the theme of perception, is pride.
Are we proud to be dairy farmers? We are all so proud of our world cup winning All Blacks and we should be as proud of our amazing Dairy Industry.

SIDE chair David Holdaway says:

As New Zealand‘s economy struggles to recover from the global financial crisis and the devastating Christchurch earthquake, one of its shining lights has been the success of “our” dairy industry. We are a success industry and we know the important contribution we have had and continue to make to this country’s economy. With this success has come increasing commentary in the media and our local communities of the effects of our industry. While some comments have been positive about the industry, others have been a little more critical of dairying. Admittedly, at times the criticism has been justified but increasingly some criticisms have been rather inaccurate and largely based on misconceptions? . . .

Outside rural media, dairying is too often in the headlines for the wrong reasons. Some of that criticism is justified, but the majority of farmers and the dairying industry as a whole can be proud of what they do and how they do it

That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement on individual farms and in the industry. But acknowledging that and dealing with trouble-spots should not stop us celebrating what we do well.

SIDE is organised by farmers, for farmers. This year’s conference will help participants appreciate what they have to be proud of and help them get even better.

Political relationships


Funny how the story of Swazi losing a Defence Department contract broke on the eve of the Jobs Summit, or was it?

Roarprawn drew the dots between Sawzi’s owner Davey Hughes and Labour MP Darren Hughes and this week’s Trans Tasman confirms that Davey is Darren’s uncle.

Of course this could be a coincidence.

Protectionism will prolong problems


If there is one lesson which has stuck in the minds people who survived the ag-sag of the 80s, it’s that governments give and governments take away.

Subsidies turn producers into beneficiaries, at the mercy of political whim, and increase costs for consumers.

We know only too well the dangers of government interference in markets and New Zealand farmers are a shining example of doing what we do best under our own steam.

That doesn’t mean the recession will be easy for us, but as Federated Farmers’ president Don Nicolson warns the real threat is not the recession itself but other governments’ reaction to it:

Protectionism is emerging from its economic crypt and seeping into legislation from Cairo to Washington.

With protectionism New Zealand’s voice carries genuine diplomatic weight. We’ve been there and come out the other side better, stronger and fitter.

The time has come to use our “poster” status to ensure a protectionist repeat of 1930 never takes place. The stakes are high, very high.

Subsidies for producers are taxes for consumers which do more harm than good in the countries which provide them and they also make it more difficult for those, like New Zealand farmers, who produce more efficiently but face unfair competition in international markets.

Protectionism comes in many forms, not just direct subsidies. Feel-good campaigns which encourage people to buy-local and outrage when local firms lose out to foreign competitors as happened last week when Swazi lost the contract to supply our Defence Force are protectionist too.

We can not expect others to open their borders to our produce if we shut our doors to theirs and we will pay a very high price if we give our trading partners an excuse to buy local themselves.

New Zealand has a lot to lose if short-term recession-busting measures result in subsidies and tariffs which will protect our competitors and reverse the painfully slow but steady progress towards globabl free trade.

But every other country will lose out in the long term too because the only fair trade is free trade.

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